Clare School Bond, CCTC renewal on Tuesday ballot

July 31, 2015

By Pat Maurer

Clare County voters will go to the polls Tuesday to decide whether to renew the Clare County Transit Corporation millage and Clare School District voters will decide whether to extend a millage for a proposed $2.45 million bond issue to remodel, repair, refurnish, equip and re-equip school district buildings, develop and improve a playground and purchase school busses.

The Clare County Transit millage (.3 mills) has been in place since the 90s and provides about 20 percent of the funds needed to provide public county-wide bus transportation.

In a June Surrey Township meeting, CCTC Director Tom Pirnstill emphasized, “This is not an increase,” he said. “It raises over $300,000 of our annual $1.6 million budget. State and Federal funds pay 50 to 55 percent and bus fares raise about 23 percent of the monies needed to continue the service.

CCTC provides “dial-a-ride” service with 24-hour prior notice. Transfers to adjacent counties are available. CCTC also will pick up and deliver prescriptions with a same-day service available. Emergency service is available 7 days a week 24 hours a day to assist Clare County Emergency Management with transportation, evacuations and temporary shelter due to local disasters and other emergencies. The CCTC also contracts to provide transportation for students.

In the Clare School District, voters will be asked to continue paying .73 mills, due to drop this year on another bond issue. A new bond issue for $2,450,000 would mean continuing the .73 mills for eleven more years, and raise funds to make repairs, increase safety, improve buildings and facilities and purchase busses without raising taxes.

Based on the average State Equalized Valuation in Clare ($50,000), the millage would cost about $36.50 in taxes each year, an amount taxpayers are already seeing on their tax bill.
The tax bill would not change.

Some of the improvements the bond issue would finance include repair to the west section of the lower floor Primary School roof; repair to the cracked Primary gym floor; installations of Primary windows and shades to improve energy and comfort in the classrooms; upgrade technology with networking equipment, wiring and wireless improvement and updates and provide computers in all buildings for State required on-line testing; and repair the Pioneer School roof.

Safety improvements include: a Direct Digital Control system for heating and cooling; Primary classroom Unit Ventilators; fresh air ductwork for the Middle School; four new or used busses to replace the aging and red-tagged busses in the transportation fleet; and update the Primary School playground with new, safer equipment.

Superintendent Doniel Pummell said in an earlier power point presentation, “For the past several years, the Board of Education has set aside one-half percent of the operating budget ($62,500 annually) into the district’s Capital Expenditure Fund for district needs. With the cuts in State Funding over the past three years ($1.5 million), lately the funds have gone to replace busses.”

Extending the current millage at this time would set the district up to extend again in eight or nine years, a move that would generate roughly $14 million, possibly to build a new school.

The ballot wording stipulates that the funds will be used for the schools’ stated needs and that they cannot be used for salaries or other purposes.

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